Monthly Archives: January 2008

Neither Night nor Day

Raza Rumi
Our contributor, Soniah Kamal‘s short story ‘The Breast’ is included in the captioned anthology published by Harper Collins, India. In the recent months, Soniah was busy with her academic pursuits and will be writing for Pak Tea House regularly.
Despite her Pakistani origins, Soniah is a true global citizen as she has lived in different countries and walked through myriad cultures. Her writings therefore bring forth a unique sensibility that is nuanced by her inherited culture but is larger in scope and effect.
We are posting a few lines below from a review found at Women’s Writing. Also another review published on the erudite Ruined by Reading blog can be found here. Finally, readers mught wish to read an interesting interview with Rakshanda Jalil, the super-talented editor of this anthology. This piece makes some profound statements on Pakistani literature; however, I am posting a quote from Jalil’s interview, that will excite the bloggers:
Incidentally, after having edited this collection, I have become an ardent devotee of the internet and the huge world it opens up. I have managed to stay in constant touch with the women who have contributed to this collection – something that I could never have done in the old days of snail mail.
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Filed under Books, Literature, Pakistan, Writers

Dr. Enver Sajjad – An Enigmatgic Icon


The first ever-commissioned play to be telecast in the subcontinent in November 1964 was written by Enver Sajjad. He was bestowed with Pride of Performance in 1989 for his valuable work in literature. And he got the ECO Award of Excellence 2004 in history, literature and culture. His screenplay are so deftly written that a prolific writer like Ashfaq Ahmed once confessed that he learned to write screenplay from Enver Sajjad

I was at Riaz Rafi’s studio apartment one evening. Rafi as he likes to be called is an artist with a nagging conscience. I was in the midst of doing an in-depth profile of him. (project shelved indefinitely–cannot get permission to use some quotes.) Continue reading


Filed under Art, Books, Dance, Fiction, Karachi, Literature, Theatre

In memoriam: Benazir Bhutto —Aitzaz Ahsan

I will remember her for three qualities: a constant urge to reach out to her people, a willingness to take on Herculean challenges, and for her ability to forgive, even embrace, her enemies. These three qualities made her superhuman. And all three took her to her tragic, yet heroic death?

“The first thing I want to do is to release all political prisoners,” she announced as our meeting on November 30, 1988 began at Dr Zafar Niazi’s house in Islamabad. In the elections held after the death of General Zia-ul Haq, the PPP, despite all efforts of the agencies, had succeeded in the elections. After failing to prop up any rival, then-President Ghulam Ishaq had finally agreed that very day to accept her as prime minister of Pakistan.

The historic meeting of PPP leadership was being held to set top priorities for Bibi’s first government. It was here as prime minister-designate that she showed her mettle. So far her life and emotions had been premised on the bitter fact that her dearest father had been deposed, imprisoned, humiliated, falsely charged, hanged and then buried without due ceremony. But she brought to that meeting only her winning smile and the undiluted optimism of a political idealist. Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan, Politics

Peshawar: Cutting trees

By Dr Ali Jan

I was sitting in my cosy chair, feeling smug and sipping coffee in the evening when I received a distressing phone call from a friend, Arbab Haleem Khan, who gave me the news of some shisham trees being chopped down, “in the Cantonment, on The Mall near the Combined Military Hospital at 5 pm, on Jan. 24,” according to him. My heart broke and it felt like I had been personally robbed of something very precious.

In British India, the term “cantonment” meant a permanent military station or settlement where the soldiers lived, not in private houses, but in barracks, quarters, forts or occasionally camps. After defeating the Sikhs and occupying the old town of Peshawar in 1849, the British founded a new cantonment, turning it into a boulevard city lined with exquisite trees. The extensive infrastructure, built during that period is still in use. They introduced city planning, set up housing registries and byelaws, named streets, and later built elaborate road systems, bridges, railway lines, airfields, and so on.

Peshawar is now officially South Asia’s oldest living city, according to experts, boasting recorded history going back more than 2,600 years. The Vale of Peshawar lay at the heart of the ancient Gandhara (“Land of Fragrance and Beauty”) between the first and seventh centuries, AD. “Like a painting . . . as far as the eye could see were fields of blossoms. In spring near Peshawar the fields of flowers are very beautiful indeed,” gushed Emperor Babar in his memoir. (Babarnama 1526 AD). The Moguls called it “City of Flowers.”
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Filed under Environment, Peshawar, urban

Afghan Madhouse (Book Review of No Space for Further Burials)

Raza Rumi

Decades of imperialism have left Afghanistan and its people devastated. But the fall of the Taliban, and the much touted “liberation” of Afghanistan, has produced a new spate of novels, films and other artistic media dealing with the “Afghan victim.”

And when I say “Afghan victim,” I mean a nauseating overdose of burqa-oppression, Taliban brutality and other “Oriental” tragedies. Not only are these subjects sexy – they tie into the global imperatives of terror and Islamism – but they also artfully exonerate the “aggressor,” whether it is the Soviets, US imperialism or NATO. As such, the bulk of this new subgenre of fiction addresses the Western, English-speaking world; writing about reluctant and not-so-reluctant fundamentalists sells “Over There.” Meanwhile, literature is turning into a grand extravaganza of marketing, prizes, commoditization and short-lived shelf lives.

Feryal Ali Gauhar’s second novel, No Space for Further Burials, attempts to break free of many of these stereotypes. A trained economist, filmmaker and former UN Goodwill Ambassador, Gauhar opts to publish her book in India , not a Western outlet. More importantly, No Space inverts the oft-hackneyed themes of displacement, war, America and the suffering Afghans, ultimately treating these grim motifs by focusing on the sanity – and insanity – implicit within personal narrative. Continue reading


Filed under Books, Pakistan, Writers

Behold a pale rider

by kinkminos

Sundown is frowned upon in certain spheres
Where high ground is taken by quarrelling peers
Cement crowns the basis of all hundred floors
Confounding soothsayers and prophets of yore

No more to call upon unfractured idols
Perforce to fall back on unpractised cycles
Of rhythmically challenged canonic devices
Kept swirling and whirling in time to my vices

Start slicing and dicing my writing at will
False niceties oftentimes will fit the bill
But a look in the mirror won’t always reveal
What all of us try very hard to conceal

Don’t feel that you ought to believe what you feel
Sometimes you can feel that your heart is a steal
At seven parts red and seventeen dead
Much room for improvement just like the man said

Instead look on life’s little burgundy petals
As delicate layers semantically settling
On alien tongues too simple for grammar
To spoil or to foil or to quietly stammer

Stand tall and build up a whopping great stash
Of verboten memories covered in ash
Surrounded by oak and columns of glee
That only the one not the other can see

But she never heeded my unbalanced song
Shrouding herself in a tantric sarong
Not venturing forth from her virtual cell
Converted to mirror some Dantean hell

Then rode a pale rider from sunsets so old
The kind that none of us care to behold
Like so did he ride and lo took a toke
His language a mixture of posture and joke

And she broke her long vow of silence and spoke
To him and his absent equestrian folk
Just one word she uttered and never again
“How” and somehow he knew what she meant

minos – february 2007


Filed under poetry

Pakistan: Geography of romance

We are posting this brilliant piece by a Karachi based author that indicates the new contours of relationships and the transformations that are taking place in the realm of romance, relationships and marriage… (Raza Rumi)

Majed Akhter writes on the emerging Geography of romance in Pakistan:

 Not only does the novel spatiality of cyberspace offer great potential for romance, Pakistani youth, and corporations, are responding vigorously to the opportunity. To what other goal, if not a new geography of romance, are the giant billboards that offer “completely free, late-night mobile conversations” striving for

The generation gap in Pakistan is increasingly apparent in more and more facets of life to the youth, and the older generations.

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Filed under Love, Society, urban